This has been a really busy year for me, and one of the areas where I spent less time was in staying connected with my digital community, whether through Twitter or reading and commenting on blogs. I let myself step back from that world in an attempt to accomplish a variety of other tasks. While it was good work that I was doing, it is only now that I have reconnected with the people in my PLN that I know how much I missed the work and joy of being a connected educator.
In the months that I was simply doing lots of work and not learning and sharing, I didn’t grow in the ways that I do when I am connected. I wasn’t following the latest ideas and learning about new strategies. I was isolated in a world that was made up of my own thoughts. While there is a richness to listening to my own ideas, I was actually too busy to be paying enough attention to them. I was accomplishing tasks, good tasks, but that put me in a place where I wasn’t listening enough.
When I am connected, I learn. That is the bottom line. When I read other people’s blogs, I learn from them. I see my practice differently when I compare it with the work of other educators. When I follow what is happening on Twitter, I can see new trends and investigate whether they are right for me and my students. I am challenged to leave my personal comfort zone and to rethink what I do each day. Plain and simply, I am a better teacher when I don’t try to go it alone, when I listen and share with other passionate teachers around the world.
In a crazy, busy world, it is easy to make excuses for taking time away, for disconnecting, but it is important to know that you are losing something of critical value. It is important to find the time and space to grow and be part of the community.
If you are connected, you are plain and simple busy. There are no lazy connected educators. To be connected, you must make time to learn each and every day. You must push the limits of your pedagogy and take risks for your students. Then you must be transparent, showing the world your mistakes and your successes, letting others learn from and with you.
That is the challenge, but having spent months away, I am now so aware of the value of the conversation. I do not want to simply be a lurker who isn’t taking time to connect. Instead, I want to return to being a participant, reading and commenting, posting and tweeting, being honest about my practice and growing with other educators.
A good goal to energize me for the rest of this school year!